After reading this blog post http://www.andstitches.blogspot.com/2014/05/love-japanese-embroidery-books.html on one of my favorite blogs I found that I did indeed have one of the Japanese book stores mentioned about 25 miles from where I live. I decided it was time for an adventure, after all the house was clean and there was nothing that urgently needed attending to. It was a horrible drive, the freeway traffic was a nightmare and it was nearly 100 degrees out so the air-conditioning was working hard to keep up. But when I arrived, I was rewarded with a whole plaza of Japanese shops. Now, I've been up that stretch of road many times, how did I never notice????? The shops were blessedly cool, and frankly it was like being abroad which was awesome. There were unfamiliar smells and sounds and most of the signs were in Japanese. I loved it all. I went in a shop that seemed to have a bit of everything, from flip-flops to dishes, from gorgeous wrapping paper to needle felting supplies and best of all, nothing was very expensive.
This was my haul. The dishes, tray and wrapping paper all came from the above mentioned shop. Then I walked across the hot carpark to a large Japanese grocery store with a bookstore attached. I am a total sucker for bookstores. I love them all, the large chain stores with tables everywhere, comfy chairs and a good coffee shop, and the small independent ones where the employees know everything there is to know about the books they sell. This bookshop was a cultural experience. I knew, of course, that it would be full of Japanese books but I wasn't prepared for the feeling of not understanding anything that I was looking at. In a weird sort of way it was vaguely frustrating and I felt slightly intimidated. Thankfully there were a few general signs in English and the lady at the counter was very helpful. I headed for the section labeled "crafts". Wow, there were so many craft books, mostly in the traditional Japanese format (which is the equivalent of starting at the back cover of a western book), and covering all manner of crafts. Of course I couldn't understand the titles so I passed a very happy hour browsing and enjoying the universal language of photography! I accidentally strayed into the parenting section at one point, which was right next to the craft books, but found my way back. I found two wonderful books that I couldn't leave without. The books have lots of beautiful photographs, so real looking that it looks like the pages have actual embroidery on. How do they do that? The instructions are very well laid out with lots of very simple and clear illustrations so that the language doesn't seem to be barrier at all.
In addition to the books, I got a little wooden doll, a cat stamp and some stickers.
I will definitely be back.